Hollywood studios and producers have long been accused of shady accounting methods. Now one of the producers behind the Hanna Montana phenomenon is claiming that the Walt Disney Co. isn't paying him his full royalties.
Michael Poryers, a longtime Hollywood television writer and producer, recently filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Disney, as well as two L.A.-based production companies. The TV veteran is asking for $1 million in unpaid compensation and what could amount to millions of dollars in punitive damages and attorneys' fees.
The complaint filed earlier this month in Los Angeles federal court states that the writer-producer has been cheated out of his royalties for ancillary income generated by the "Hanna Montana" TV series, which he helped to create. The royalties include a percentage of all DVD, video game and merchandising sales.
According to the complaint, Poryers entered into an agreement with production company Bigwood Films Inc. to write the half-hour pilot for "Hanna Montana," the tween television phenomenon starring Miley Cyrus that pulls in nearly 10 million weekly viewers and that he alleges generates "billions" in total revenue for Disney.
Poryers claims Disney took over some of Bigwood's obligations, including royalties amounting to 6 percent of the gross sales of all related Hanna Montana merchandise.
Poryers, an executive producer on the upcoming film, claims that while Disney has paid him an undisclosed amount for royalties, the company has not reported revenues accurately and still owes him at least $900,000.
Attorneys for Poryers and Burbank-based Disney would not comment on the lawsuit.
Bigwood Films Inc., also named as a defendant, could not be reached for comment.
Advertising revenue is down about 3 percent on average nationwide for all media. But CBS Corp.'s radio stations, including KNX-AM (1070) and KFWB-AM (980), have seen a 10 percent drop in advertising and that has led to significant layoffs this month.
Several industry sources said that that CBS executives had asked Roy Laughlin, the new senior vice president and market manager of the L.A. news stations, to cut $1 million in operating costs, resulting in the layoffs of at least two dozen employees.
Revenue is down 9 percent, and operating income down 16 percent to $150.7 million at CBS radio stations across the country, according to the company's third quarter filing with Security and Exchange Commission.
The company said in the filing it plans to sell off some of its outlying radio stations, reducing the total number of stations from 120 to about 90.
CBS radio executives declined to comment on the recent layoffs at the L.A. stations, which have offices on the Miracle Mile. But industry sources believe KNX and KFWB will be retained, though operated by leaner staffs.
Other CBS outlets in the Los Angeles area include alternative rock KROQ-FM (106.7), adult hits KCBS-FM (93.1), smooth jazz KTWV-FM (94.7), golden oldies KRTH-FM (101.1) and talk KLSX-FM (97.1).
Ticketmaster Inc. launched an online video feature on its Web site last week that spotlights what it considers up-and-coming performers and bands.
It's all part of an effort by the West Hollywood-based ticket seller to think beyond its core business in the rapidly evolving world of music especially since its largest client, Live Nation Inc., the world's biggest live events promoter, will become a major competitor next year when it starts selling its own tickets.
West Hollywood-based Ticketmaster launched the music video adjunct with a video of the Andrew McMahon-fronted piano rock band Jack's Mannequin, along with separate videos from three other artists.
"The idea is to have them come into our studio and record a session and then we make that available to visitors to our Web site," said Albert Lopez, a Ticketmaster spokesman.
The company expects to have four artists record a song each, and have them on the Web site in a two- or three-week rotation.
The sessions can be accessed on Ticketmaster's YouTube channel, RSS feeds and as podcasts on iTunes. The sessions also can be shared on Facebook and MySpace pages.
Africa Channel Expands
As part of its business growth strategy, North Hollywood-based Africa Channel made its official launch last week in central Oregon, gaining carriage in Bend, Redmond and Sisters on local cable provider BendBroadband.
The Africa Channel, which has documentaries, soaps operas, talk shows, films and news all produced in Africa, now has a reach of more than 11 million households across the country. That includes more than 1.5 million Time Warner Cable subscribers in Los Angeles County, where it has been available on Channel 176 since July.
Staff reporter Brett Sporich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.
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